IRN-BRU SEMI FINALS: LINFIELD V CRUSADERS; CLIFTONVILLE V GLENAVON (LIVE ON RADIO ULSTER FROM 7.30PM)

IT is ‘Clash of the Titans’ on Tuesday night in Belfast as four of the big clubs in Irish League football go head to head in the semi finals of the IRN-BRU Cup.

The matches go ahead against freezing temparatures in the city but the atmosphere will be electrifying at both Windsor Park and Solitude grounds.

Linfield face north Belfast rivals and current league cup Crusaders on the back of a good 3-1 win in Fermanagh last Saturday beating Ballinamallard.

Cliftonville face Glenavon after beating Coleraine 3-1 last Saturday cementing their place at the top of the Danske Bank Irish Premier League.

It rounded off a great week for the club after manager Tommy Breslin was named Manager of the Month for November by the Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Association.

Linfield have been struggling for consistent form in the league this season and they were beaten on penalties in the recent County Antrim Shield final by Ballymena Utd.

The Blues currently lie in sixth spot in the table with a massive 14 point gap between them and table toppers Cliftonville.

However, under pressure David Jeffrey bought himself some breathing space after his win at the weekend against Ballinamallard.

“I never want to walk away from this job but you are only there as long as you can make a contribution,” he said.

Despite six doubles in seven years, the Blues haven’t won the League Cup since 2008.

Crusaders skipper Colin Coates says Linfield’s recent form book in the Premier League goes out the window when it comes to Tuesday night’s crunch semi-final cup clash.

“Linfield have had a poor start by their standards, but these things happen to teams,” said Coates.

“For some reason, it is just not happening for them at the moment, but they will come good,” added the skipper whose team beat the Blues in Septembe at Windsor 2-1.

But Linfield got sweet revenge when they beat the Shore Road men 1-0 in the semi-final of the County Antrim Shield in October.

In the other clash, Cliftonville are at home to Glenavon with the Reds hoping hot shot striker Liam Boyce is fit to play following a clash of heads in their game against Coleraie at the weekend.

November’s Manager of the Month Tommy Breslin

“He had a sore head, but there was no concussion,” said Reds manager Tommy Breslin.

Captain George McMullan returns to the Cliftonville line-up after missing the Coleraine game because of a suspension, and Barry Holland should be available after an injury lay-of having come through a reserves match on Saturday.

Defender Tomas Cosgrove looks likely to miss the game because of a hamstring injury.

Glenavon have been boosted by the news that former Derry City and Glentoran midfielder Ciaran Martyn has extended his stay at Mourneview Park.

Martyn had originally signed a three-month deal but has now agreed terms on a contract which will keep him at Lurgan until the end of next season.

 

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